It’s been just about a year since immuno-oncology startup Neon Therapeutics unveiled itself alongside a $55 million pile of Series A cash.
Now, evidently, the Cambridge, MA-based company is ready to graduate from a venture-oriented CEO to a former pharma exec ready to jump into the clinical fray.
Neon has brought on former Novartis exec Hugh O’Dowd to replace interim CEO Dr. Cary Pfeffer, who is a partner at Third Rock Ventures. That firm formed the company and led its Series A financing.
“Hugh brings great depth of expertise in oncology, and has played a pivotal role in building Novartis Oncology into one of the world’s leading oncology companies,” said Pfeffer in a statement. “Hugh’s broad drug development and commercialization experience, combined with his personable, motivating leadership style, will be critical to Neon Therapeutics as we rapidly advance our neoantigen-based immuno-oncology treatments for patients in need.”
O’Dowd has held a series of regional executive spots at Novartis including most recently country president and general manager of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Prior to that, he was SVP and CCO of Novartis Oncology. He spent more than 20 years with the pharma, but opted to make the startup leap now with Neon.
“Immuno-oncology has already shown great progress, though we are on the cusp of a real sea change in cancer treatment to properly harness the immune system to attack cancer,” said O’Dowd. “Neon Therapeutics has already made impressive headway in advancing its programs, including moving NEO-PV-01 to an accepted IND, and its science has the potential to fundamentally change cancer treatment.”
NEO-PV-01 is also already the subject of a clinical collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb. The pair signed the deal last December to put the personalized neoantigen vaccine into the clinic with the pharma’s PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo (nivolumab).
The Phase 1b trial was set to start this year and to evaluate the combo in melanoma, smoking-associated non-small cell lung cancer and bladder cancer. It includes the evaluation of neoantigen-specific immune responses in peripheral blood and tumor tissue, as well as other indicators of immune response such as PD-L1 expression.
NEO-PV-01 is a personalized neoantigen vaccine based on DNA mutations from patients’ individual tumors, while Opdivo is a human programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) blocking antibody that binds to the PD-1 receptor expressed on activated T cells.
By Stacy Lawrence
Source: Fierce Biotech
A monkeypox outbreak is emerging in the U.S. and Europe, and at least one country is amping up countermeasure preparedness. Bavarian Nordic has secured a contract with an unnamed European country to supply its smallpox vaccine, called Imvanex in Europe, in response to the emergence of monkeypox cases, the Danish company said Thursday.
Moderna’s recent chief financial officer debacle—in which Jorge Gomez departed on his second day on the job—raised questions about the company’s hiring process given its rush to global biopharma prominence. The most obvious one: How was it possible for Gomez to be hired when he was under investigation by his previous employer, Dentsply Sirona of Charlotte, N.C.
Merck & Co. is plucking a cancer project from the branch of Chinese-based Kelun Pharmaceutical for up to $1.4 billion, but details from the New Jersey-based Big Pharma have been hard to come by. The deal, first disclosed Monday on the Shenzhen stock exchange, has Merck handing over $47 million in upfront cash in exchange for ex-China rights to a “macromolecular tumor project.”